Ogdensburg council votes to amend charter in contentious meeting

Ogdensburg city council amends charter

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg’s city council plans to amend the city charter regarding the powers of the city manager and residency requirements for the police chief.

Close to 20 people attended a special meeting Monday night. Many of them spoke in opposition to both changes.

But the council voted 4 to 3 in favor of the two actions.

The first allows a police chief to be hired from outside of the city, but mandates they move there once they get the job.

The second, which drew the most criticism, allows city council, rather than the city manager, to appoint department heads.

Council members Mike Powers, Nichole Kennedy, and Dan Skamperle emphatically opposed the move.

“The community has spoken,” Skamperle said. They’re not happy with these charter changes. It’s nonsense. It’s nonsense. I can’t even imagine where this is coming from other than serving somebody’ ego for power.”

“I don’t think it’s a power grab,” Powers said. “I know it’s a power grab.”

“I, in my own good will and conscience, cannot vote for this,” Kennedy said. “This is not what the voters are asking for.”

Deputy Mayor John Rishe countered that Ogdensburg is the only municipality in St. Lawrence County where the elected officials don't appoint department heads.

Powers asked Mayor Mike Skelly if this was going to go to a public referendum. Skelly responded with a flat-out, "no."

According to the meeting agenda, the amendments will take effect 20 days after they’re filed with New York’s Secretary of State.

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